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City Marks Emergency Preparedness Week with Early Flood Prevention Planning

Post Date:05/04/2020 1:06 PM

Medicine Hat – Emergency Preparedness Week (EP Week) is an annual event that takes place during the first full week of May. This national event is coordinated by Public Safety Canada, in close collaboration with the provinces, territories and other partners. May 3-9, 2020 is the 25th annual EP Week.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Medicine Hat is taking time to conduct advanced planning to prepare for a “second scenario” like a flood, windstorm, or other hazardous incident. 

“There are certain emergencies that have a higher probability than others, and with a river running through our city, flooding is always at the back of our minds in springtime,” said Merrick Brown, Director of Emergency Management for the City of Medicine Hat. “Thankfully, we have measures to put in place for flooding, which is what we will begin to deploy in the coming days.”

Typical flood response is performed in a relatively short period of time prior to predicted danger. With restrictions surrounding COVID-19, the City of Medicine Hat recognizes that mitigation and response strategies may take additional time to deliver, as the City will not be taking advantage of volunteers to support the effort. 

Residents will soon see the City perform preemptive flood prevention measures including filling sandbags, and constructing temporary measures such as muscle walls. Staff will take all necessary precautions relative to COVID-19, where possible, including physical distancing, increased sanitation, proper hygiene and staying home when sick.

“I want to be explicitly clear – there is no indication at this time that a flood will occur in Medicine Hat. These measures are solely based on circumstances surrounding COVID-19. We are monitoring river levels internally, as well as tracking information from provincial agencies. Should an imminent risk arise, residents will be immediately notified,” adds Brown.

Homeowners and businesses who are historically impacted by flooding may already have a sanitary sewer back flow isolation valve in their building. EP Week is a good time to practice installing the test gate valve and perform any preventative maintenance like lubricating the “O” ring and removing debris that would prevent a tight fit. This video provides more information.

“Emergencies typically come without warning, but with thoughtful planning, you can be better equipped to respond appropriately and keep yourself, your family, and your pets safe,” said Brown. 

The City encourages residents to set aside time each year to create or review an emergency evacuation plan, assemble or update an Emergency Grab and Go Kit to make sure items are in working order and nothing is expired, have an extra amount of medication on hand, package important documents (like passports and birth certificates) so they can be grabbed in a moment’s notice, and arrange a safe place to go (family or friends) in case of the need to leave home for a period of time. 

More helpful information is available on the City’s website

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